Back in the 1980s there was a popular song titled, "Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places." That tune still sadly describes the procedure that many unsaved single men and women go through trying to find true love. Some Christians even fall into that trap. People get so lonely that they are willing to compromise their faith or standards to find what seems like happiness. Let's look at a better way which God has provided to us.
The Creation and Nature Of Marriage
The Bible has much to say about the relationships between men and women. The advice is not just spiritual, but practical as you will see. The first relationship and marriage begins in Genesis 2:18-24 (KJV):
"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Genesis 3:16 (KJV)
Marriage is between one man and one woman. Anything else is out of the Will of God and sinful. That includes having multiple wives (polygamy). Some believe that polygamy is Biblical. It is not. Let's look at a few verses that make this crystal clear:
"Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold." Deuteronomy 17:17 (KJV)
"But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart" 1 Kings 11:1-3 (KJV)
" A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;" 1 Timothy 3:2 (KJV)
Should Saved and Unsaved People Date and Marry?
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (KJV)
Back in Bible times oxen were used as beasts of burden. In order for them to be used to do work by pulling something like a cart, they would be paired or 'yoked' together with a wooden device known as a yoke. It was really little more than a large wooden plank carefully shaped to join two oxen together. The yoke would have to be correctly fitted or one animal would end up working against the other instead of working with the other to pull a load or perform some other chore.
The first thing that Christians must consider when it comes to dating is that God has warned us not to date or marry unsaved people. It isn't that God wants to make you unhappy by keeping you from someone that you may be physically or emotionally attracted to, he just wants to help you avoid the heartbreak of having to choose between your faith and your mate. The sad fact is that unsaved people have no relationship with God and many do not want one. Given that, how can you expect to find happiness with a person who has no use for the one who saved you from hell?
Years ago an evangelist provided an excellent example of why saved and unsaved people should not marry. A Christian woman came to him and wondered if she could possibly marry an unsaved man that she claimed she loved? She was absolutely convinced that she could win that man to Christ once they were married. The evangelist went through a few Bible verses with her and tried to explain them to her, but he could see he was getting nowhere. Deciding to try something different, he asked her to climb up on to the top of his desk which was about the height of the average dining room table. The Christian woman wondered what in the what he was up to, but she complied with his request.
After climbing up on to the top of his desk and finding her footing, the evangelist extended his hand to the woman and asked her to take it. She did and waited for further instructions. At that point the evangelist told her that he wanted to use an object lesson to make his point to her. In this lesson he would be the unsaved person and she would be the Christian, with both starting out married life together. He then asked her to pull him up on to the top of the desk so that he could stand next to her. Try as she might, the woman just could not do it.
By contrast, the Evangelist grabbed the woman's hand tightly and easily pulled her down off of the desk. At that point she realized what lesson he wanted her to learn. It would be easy for an unsaved person to influence a Christian, but not so easy for a Christian to try and influence someone who had no interest in the things of God. If the unsaved man would not seek salvation through Jesus Christ and get saved before their marriage, why would he seek it after?
Moving away from the issue of Christians getting romantically involved with unsaved people, what about Christians getting involved with other Christians? How do you know if you have found the right person to spend your life with? It's a tough question and one not easily answered, but let's take a look at what the Bible says we should look for in a spouse.
What Qualities Should We Look For In A Christian Spouse?
"Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." 1 Timothy 2:7-15 (KJV)
Here the Apostle Peter offers us a glimpse into the positive attributes of obedient Christian Men and Women. Men should should be well founded in their faith, firm in the knowledge of their salvation, dependent on God for their needs, sober and even tempered. Women should dress and act modestly, be sober and willing to be submissive to their husband and continue to grow spiritually in the Lord.
Let's clarify: God does not want women to be thought of or treated like second class citizens or men to be bullies over their wives. He simply wants men and women to understand the traditional roles that he has for them and to seek to fill those roles. The Bible gives us a wonderful example of proper behavior for both men and woman who are a part of the Body of Christ by pointing out improper behavior in Ephesians 5: 14-33 (KJV):
"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
It is obvious that these verses in the Book of Ephesians are meant as a correction for Christian behavior that was not acceptable. The first admonition tells us to seek and obey the will of God, be careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences, use the time we have wisely and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives instead of turning to worldly pleasures like wine (with alcohol) for our strength and inspiration. Next, we are told to be joyful, thankful and willing to submit ourselves to those who are able to teach us about the things of God.
The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Ephesians under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He takes the previous admonition and works it into the relationships between Christian Men and Women. He tells wives to submit themselves to their husbands just as their husbands submit themselves to the Lord for the greater good. In this case, submission is not an act of weakness, but one of strength. It is easy to be rebellious and come up against almost anything. Weak willed people are often those who fall into situations that allow others to use them for their own agenda. It takes a strong character and act of will to be willing to behave in a manner that is beneficial to all.
Paul uses the church as an example to point out that groups of Believers place themselves under the grace and protection of God, just as wives place their well-being in the hands of their husbands. The end result of understanding and obeying the Lord in these matters is that we present ourselves to God without excuses and in obedience to his will. Paul also reminds us of this in Romans 12:1-2 (KJV):
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Paul goes on to explain that the husband is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of his wife, just as Christ is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of her husband and all Believers. Paul also reminds us that the husband and wife have become one flesh, acting as a common unit after they marry. This means that they act together, not separately. He points out the foolishness of men who mistreat their wives because what they are really doing is mistreating themselves and dis-respecting the union that God has blessed. Paul tells married Christians to love and respect each other because their relationship is just like the relationship between Christ and the church, and that is nothing to take lightly.
What About Physical Relationships During Dating and After Marriage?
We receive some more detailed advice about the physical and spiritual relationships involved with dating and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:1-16 (KJV):
" Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?"
Paul's first admonition concerns physical relationships. He tells us that it is better to avoid physical contact prior to marriage because (obviously) the more physical contact that is made, the more likely we are to sin by having sex prior to marriage. However, if physical contact is something that cannot be avoided, than marriage is the solution. Once we're married we are to remain faithful to each other and avoid the temptation to refuse each other physical love and find satisfaction elsewhere. The devil always makes the grass look greener in someone else's yard and, knowing how marriage mirrors Christ's relationship with the church, works hard trying to split people apart.
The matter of divorce comes up and Paul suggests that it is something to be avoided. Even people that were saved after marriage are admonished to remain with their unsaved spouse. Christians saved after marriage have the opportunity to show their spouse the love of Christ through them and win their spouse to the Lord. If that doesn't happen, the two should still remain together. However, we're also reminded that we have liberty in Jesus. We are not under the old system of the law and prophets. If divorce is something that cannot be avoided and will bring peace to the Christian, it is permitted.
Why Should We Avoid Intimate Physical Relationships Before Marriage?
In these days when people speak of being involved in 'starter' marriages or 'trial' relationships, what they really mean is that they want all the benefits of marriage without any of the responsibilities. This has led to throw away children and people that replace the satisfaction derived from the act of having sex with true romance, physical and spiritual love. The truth is that Satan has perverted the wonderful act of physical love that God has created and encourages within marriage into something ugly and destructive. God never meant for sex to be used simply as a means for physical satisfaction. That was the devil's idea. Few consider the dire consequences of premarital sex which can include everything from being infected with a sexually transmitted disease to unwanted children.
A recent study showed that millions of members of the so-called 'baby boomer' generation may be infected with the sexually transmitted disease called 'Hepititus C' without even knowing it. Some may have been infected through blood transfusions they had prior to 1992 when testing of blood supplies for that disease first began. Others might have been infected by sharing needles during illegal drug use. However, the vast majority of infected persons probably got that way through sexual contacts. I guess all that 'free love' wasn't really free. Like all sin it comes with a high price.
Paul reminds us that sex for pleasure's sake is sin in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (KJV):
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
God gave us all ample warning about the dangers of premarital (casual) sex and being infected with STD's long before people knew that these diseases were or how they were transmitted in 1 Corinthians 6:18 (KJV):
"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
When we participate in premarital sex we abuse our own bodies by opening the door to STD's and sin against God by giving into temptation and immorality. Not only is it wrong, but it is dangerous to our physical health and hurtful to our spiritual well-being. It places us out of the will of God and into the hands of the devil.
How Can You Find The Right Person To Marry?
Years ago I heard Dr. John R. Rice preach a sermon in which he said that God has someone for everybody. Having raised a happy and successful family himself with children that love and are serving God, I believe those words. The keys to finding the right person are prayer, persistence, patience and piety. We must pray that the Lord leads us to someone or someone to us. We must persist in our desire to find a mate and trust that God has one for us. We must have patience, understanding that God may have a different timetable than we do. Finally, we must remain devoted to Biblical standards and have a desire to grow spiritually in all we do.
Christian worship and activities is a good place to start. If you are not a member of a Bible-believing and Christ-honoring church, you risk the danger of running across someone out in the world who you think may be the prefect mate. That person might be nothing more than a counterfeit sent your way by the devil to ruin your life. If you are planning to attend Bible College, this is another place where you have ample opportunity to consider those who cross your path as possible candidates for your affection.
Christian Dating Do's and Don't's
-Don't become involved with an unsaved person, or with a Christian that is living in sin, or is disobedient to God.
- Don't become involved in a physical (petting) or sexual relationship outside of marriage.
- Don't allow infatuation to overtake you. It is easy to become infatuated with someone that may not be right for you. Pick a partner by taking more than just an emotional attachment or a physical attraction into consideration.
- Do avoid rushes to judgment and becoming exclusive to one person before you have had time to consider their compatability and size up their spiritual condition.
- Do seek the Lord's Will in finding a mate and place God FIRST in all your efforts.
- Do seek your parent's advice on choosing a mate and their approval on your choice.
God wants us to live spiritually fulfilling lives and the Bible makes it clear that like everything else in a Believer's Life, marriage can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you approach it. If you approach marriage in a manner that is pleasing to God and in obedience to His Word, you will find happiness. If not, you give the devil ample opportunity to ruin your life and that of your spouse.